Yesterday, I was invited to do grief processing with the BOHECO linemen in Tubigon whose two comrades met their untimely death when the electrical post they erected fell on them.
It was the day before New Year when the group went to the field, did their job, and the accident happened. And it’s been three weeks now, yet they are still struggling with the loss, and the management deemed it necessary to help them in their grief.
It is always difficult when someone you love or value is lost. It might be a family member, a pet, a friend, or even a job. I also had a high school classmate whose son was hit by the Ceres bus along Cortes road several days ago. His grief is unfathomable. He was his eldest. His wife also died 2 years ago. The younger sibling is even more affected of his Kuya’s demise. Truly a disaster.
We suffer emotionally when we grieve. It is but natural. And the only cure for grief is to grieve. No short cuts.
Yet, we hear of well-meaning friends and relatives who offer their condolences and encourage the grieving person to be strong. They may not know it, but there is nothing really weak in grieving. It’s not really important to be strong in the face of a loss. It’s a myth.
Another myth is the belief that you can ignore the pain so that it will go away fast. It’s not only unhealthy, it can be damaging. Unprocessed grief can become complicated grief which may lead to depression. It is important to recognize the pain.
While it may help divert the attention of the griever if we provide distraction such as leisure activities or getting busy at work, its temporary effect may backfire in the long run. Grief has to be embraced until it is accepted.
But grieving is not also necessarily crying all the time. It does not mean that when you do not cry, you are not sorry for the loss. The grieving process is unique for each one of us, and that should be respected.
For someone who lost a loved one, moving on can take a while. But one thing is sure, life will never be the same again. You cannot forget anymore the memories. It is a myth as well to say that moving on entails forgetting about the loss. It is more appropriately accepting the loss and treasuring the memories.
Literature says that we go through stages in the process of grieving. We begin with denial, anger, and then bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. But these stages are hardly linear or progressive. They are iterative, any stage can overlap.
Whatever the case, it is very important that we get social and emotional support during these times. While we recognize the pain and the many different kinds of emotions that grieving triggers, we also need the presence of others, face-to-face, person to person.
That is why it is doubly difficult this time to experience loss. The restrictions imposed because of the pandemic limit our social interaction, and this can leave the grieving person to feel alone, isolated, and vulnerable to depression.
The depression in the grieving process is different from clinical depression. The latter is already a disorder while the former is an expected deep sadness related to the loss. We should take care not to succumb to clinical depression while grieving.
According to one Rabbi, grief is the price we pay for loving. But what is life without love? I believe our experience of grief should lead us all the more to be authentic in our love for one another.